Keith Canisius has been pretty busy the last few months. During lockdown he’s released two albums under the name Shortwave Broadcaster, an ambient project that takes heavily-effected guitar and turns it into something ethereal. Strings awash in modulation, reverb, and delay that transform into swaths of gorgeous sound. Long, expansive tracks that spread out into what feel like endless skies.
I first heard Keith Canisius back in 2017 with his Astral TV project, a synth/guitar duo which he started with Causa Sui’s Rasmus Rasmussen. They have released two albums with El Paraiso Records. Canisius has also released music under his own name and in the duo Rumskib with Darla Records.
I recently talked with Keith about Shortwave Broadcaster and how the project came about.
J. Hubner: So why the name Shortwave Broadcaster?
Keith Canisius: The name comes from Milton William Cooper. He was a Shortwave Broadcaster. He would broadcast about conspiracies on various topics and was kind of crazy. Perfect story for a band name. I was inspired by a documentary about him.
J. Hubner: How would you describe the overall vibe of the sound?
Keith Canisius: In general I’m aiming for an eccentric mood, but I would also say the vibe is semi-loose and improvised. Sometimes it can also be tight, structured and repetitive. Although I never copy/paste a loop. The tracks are recorded live. I’m trying to merge the idea of film music with ambient and experimental genres. Guess you could throw in some dream pop and shoegaze-y guitar vibes as well.
J. Hubner: Who or what are some influences going into this project?
Keith Canisius: I get really inspired by certain types of movies. I think I finished this album the day after I saw Tenet.
J. Hubner: Your debut, Afraid of Ai, sort of has this dream-like vibe. The name sounds like a Philip K Dick novel, while the music is very serene. Can you give me an idea of how you create those swaths of sound on the record?
Keith Canisius: Thanks, I really like Phillip K Dick. I have a concrete tape modular setup (eurorack system). The guitars/music begin from the tape sampler and get modulated in various ways. I experiment a lot with it and I don’t always know what I’m doing on the technical side of things.
J. Hubner: I love long, expansive tracks. With a track like “After Hours” or “Where are you?” that hit the 18 minute and 20 minute mark respectively, how do you know it’s done? Is it just a feel you have, riding it out in the studio until it feels complete? It’s a silly question, but it’s one I would’ve asked Edgar Froese if I’d ever been given the chance.
Keith Canisius: It’s very much a feel and it also takes some courage I think. I loved the loops of William Basinski. I think he made me realize that if you have something strong enough and worth repeating or extending, just do it. I also like the idea of gliding further and further into your moods and thoughts. Giving them room so to speak.
J. Hubner: ‘Afraid of Ai’ came out in July, but you already released album number two on October 2nd. Tell me a little about ‘Intuition’. Is there a concept behind the album?
Keith Canisius: Not really. I’m just happy to feel inspired again in regards to composing. I used to make loads of music, but after having twins and a full time job I had a hard time finding peace and quiet, Also what was my goal with it. I really just enjoy creating moods and ideas on this project. It makes me feel free so to speak.
J. Hubner: Listening to singles “Intuition” and “Down to earth” I hear subtle sonic changes from ‘Afraid of Ai’. Where the debut had a softer, more ethereal approach, this time around things sound bigger and brighter. Did you come at these songs differently?
Keith Canisius: It’s true. They came out really bright. I actually had to really remove brightness. I really like the sound to be clear and bright. But I used some of the same techniques as on Afraid of Ai.
J. Hubner: Can you describe your setup that you use to create Shortwave Broadcaster songs? If you had to pick just one instrument in the arsenal that is key to your sound, what would it be?
Keith Canisius: I record dry guitars and load them in my Eurorack Tape sampler. I do everything on Hardware. So no fancy computer tricks. It might sound corny, but I think my sound is the way I play the guitar. I can see other players with similar atmospheric sound, but I think I have my own style on the guitar. In the end the way you play it makes a big difference. I couldn’t pinpoint one thing out. It’s the combination of a lot of things. The bright sound and strings, the big chords, the effects and modulation, the flair for certain moods I’m chasing.
J. Hubner: Besides being busy with Shortwave Broadcaster, have you and Rasmus been sharing music files for new Astral TV material?
Keith Canisius: I shared a lot of stuff with him, but he has been busy with child no. 2 and other things. We do have a lot of things and a third album is not far away working-wise. It’s just a matter of meeting up again, when his son moves upstairs and away from the basement studio :-).
J. Hubner: You seem to have used your time during lockdown the last few months wisely and creatively. How are things currently in Frederiksberg? Besides making new music, how else have you spent these last few months?
Keith Canisius: I have a family life and a stable working life. Things are going really good. It’s more and more the small things that matter to me. I’m sure I will have much more time for loads of music later in the future. For now I’m happy I found some space for this project. It has to be fun, creative and inspiring.
J. Hubner: So what’s next for Keith Canisius? More Shortwave Broadcaster? Astral TV? Something new?
Keith Canisius: I’m really enjoying my SB thing at the moment. I really love releasing the music myself and connecting with people like in the good old days (Myspace etc.) You can do so much on your own these days without a lot of people behind you. The SB project is also so informal and creative for me. I feel like I can do whatever I feel like with it. I’m sure I will put out a lot of music the next couple of years. I might be doing some synthesizer music with beats on again. I just bought a quite impressive Drum sequencer :-). Maybe under the name Kippy, which I made an EP under.
You can keep up with Keith Canisius over at Shortwave Broadcaster’s Bandcamp page. He has three releases so far, and all are well worth your time. And hit up El Paraiso Records for some Astral TV, as well as Darla Records for Rumskib and solo Keith Canisius.